by Gabriel Constans
After years of poverty, heartbreak, loss and betrayal, Tomas enters Annalise’s world and shatters the iron casing she’s erected around her heart. Tomas is kind, intelligent, romantic and handsome, but he’s also her husband’s brother!
Once Tomas and Annalise meet, they are forever intertwined and repeatedly ripped apart by fate, self-doubt and blackmail. Her husband, Jens, is a brilliant, jealous and manipulative scoundrel who keeps her psychologically under lock and key, until her passion for Tomas sets her free.
“The valley was known for its fertile ground and fertile women – having never quite moved into the twentieth century, Catholic Krumjagen families kept producing children like sheep. And, like sheep, the children had a tendency to wander off once they were grown.”
“Herr Schmidt taught first through fourth grade. His clothes were always impeccable. If the smallest wrinkle or tiniest speck of dirt ever landed upon His Grace’s attire, they would have fled in terror and shame from his bloodcurdling gaze of superiority. He seemed to pick on our family with relentless joy.”
“I had a rabid case of snow blindness, and I kept crawling up Mt. Illusion, ignoring all signs of the impending avalanche.”
“‘Yeah, life,’ she smirked. ‘It’s a sexually transmitted terminal illness that you’re infected with at birth.’”
“Denial is quite compelling – a combination of thinking you’re in love and living in hell. You keep your eye on the illusion and pretend the fire burning your feet is the floor heater.”
“Let’s make our own movie, a European version of It’s a Wonderful Life, without the attempted suicide,”
Loving Annalise turned out to be so much more than I expected. It was a short yet superlatively written story that entertained and held my attention from beginning to end. The story is narrated by Annalise – a woman who is mulling over her rather tragic personal history. She tells her story with remarkable insight and annotates with clever humor. At times I wanted to smack Annalise for being a naïve moron and monumental coward, but then remembered the culture she was living in as well as period of time she was recalling, and neither were kind to girls/women. She was a mousey child of 7 who had been bullied and viewed as an oddity, even in their small backward village of 79 houses, which maintained the cultural and religious attitudes of an earlier century. As she lacked self-esteem and assertiveness, she was easy prey and trapped in a loveless marriage and later bullied and blackmailed by her unfaithful and emotionally vapid husband.
The humor was wily and frequently had me smirking, and I will admit that I actually barked aloud once and was still tittering several minutes later over her humiliating mistake of English usage during a public bus ride, which continues to bring a chuckle as I type out this review. Mr. Constans use of metaphor is richly entertaining. The writing was smart, absorbing, amusing, and occasionally sensual. I love a story with soul mates getting their much deserved HEA.